Clean it up.
Coach Rod Sandberg’s message to his Whitworth football team this week doesn’t get much clearer than that as the Pirates prepare to host Eastern Oregon in a nonconference football game on Saturday. The game kicks off at 1 p.m. at the Pine Bowl.
Two turnovers in the second half and eight total penalties proved costly in a season-opening 35-17 loss vs. Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh last weekend.
“I think a lot of things were self-inflicted and things we can control, so that’s exciting,” Sandberg said in a video posted to the athletic department’s YouTube channel on Tuesday. “We knew we played a really good team. Just dropping the ball, penalties shot us in the foot early. We had some key drives, (and mistakes) took us out of scoring position. We missed reads.
“We were minus-2 in turnovers, and it’s hard to win a game, especially against a good opponent on the road. We’ve got to value the ball.”
The Pirates are making a change at quarterback, installing former Mead standout Ryan Blair behind center. Jaedyn Prewitt completed 34 of 47 passes for 404 yards and a touchdown against Carnegie Mellon, but he threw two interceptions after halftime, the second of which was returned 43 yards for a touchdown to put the game out of reach with just under 6 minutes left .
Blair took over on Whitworth’s final possession and completed 7 of 10 passes for 55 yards, but the Pirates turned the ball over on downs at the Carnegie Mellon 28-yard line.
Whitworth had minimal success running the ball in the opener, finishing with minus-3 rushing yards on 25 carries. Ryan Black led the Pirates with 12 yards on five rushes.
Eastern Oregon, and NAIA affiliated school, was outscored a combined 86-17 in losses to Montana Tech and Montana Western to start the season. The Mountaineers have allowed an average of 432 yards of offense.